At the DMA Annual: Ross-Simons’s Secrets of Success

Chicago–“When you have a marketing role, it’s important to not just focus on marketing”: That was the theme of a presentation by Ross-Simons vice president of marketing Cindy Marshall at the DMA Annual Conference’s Catalog Weekend. Marshall’s point was that marketing entails creative and merchandising as well–a point that she and her copresenter, Ross-Simons Internet marketing director Anne Driscoll, illustrated throughout their Oct. 28 session, “Implementing Proven Techniques for Increasing Response Rates.”

Among Marshall’s suggestions:

* include clearance items in your catalogs at least twice a year

* when remailing books, don’t change just the cover; repaginate the book, or at least part of it, as well. Consumers have caught on to the “change the cover” tip

* build a nonresponder database to use as a suppression tool to reduce costs of and boost response to future mailings

Among the promotions that have worked well for jewelry, tabletop, and home decor cataloger/retailer Ross-Simons have been offering prospects free shipping on their first order. According to Marshall, that offer has proved more effective for the Cranston, RI-based company than other prospecting offers. But Driscoll noted that among the various Mother’s Day e-mail offers the company tested this past spring, 10% off any purchase of $100 or more had twice the conversion rate of the average rate of all the other offers.

With the print catalogs, Marshall said, placing a “savings spree” dot whack on the cover, offering a percentage off based on the size of the order, has generated a 30%-40% lift in response. And a test this past spring in its prospecting books featuring a full-page “welcome” message proved so successful, Ross-Simons plans to expand its use of the letter in the future.

On the Internet side of the business, which accounts for 15%-18% of the company’s sales, Driscoll noted that purchasing or flagging “remote” keywords (for instance, “promise rings” or “Wedgwood china”) for use by search engines nets greater conversion rates than global keywords (such as “jewelry” or “dishes”).